Coast Guard reports no storm-related boat assists

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard had not received any calls for assistance from fishing vessels in the Bering Sea as a massive storm continued to batter Western Alaska, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

"Everybody's playing it safe," said Petty Officer Sara Francis. "We like it that way."

There had also been no requests by cargo ships transiting between continents for "storm avoidance," when a ship flagged to another country seeks shelter in the United States during a storm, Francis said.

Of the dozens of vessels fishing for red king crab in 2011, only eight were still crabbing on Wednesday, Francis said. Three of those were filming for the Discovery Channel's show, "Deadliest Catch," she said.

Meantime, the Coast Guard cutter Sherman had picked up 20 of 34 fishermen aboard the Rebecca Irene, a 134-foot fishing vessel that suffered engine trouble before the storm. A tugboat reached the Rebecca Irene Wednesday morning and the vessel was under tow to Dutch Harbor, Francis said.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was being moved from King Salmon north to Bethel in case emergency situations arise in the area, Francis said. Another Jayhawk that was in Cold Bay for the crabbing season was headed back to Kodiak, she said.

When the Sherman reaches Dutch Harbor about 7 p.m. Wednesday, it will unload the fishermen, resupply and head back out into the Bering, Francis said. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter